18 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 18/11/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writers: Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg & Kelly Thompson
Art: Mahmud Asrar & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $7.99

Matt C: I’ve strayed far from the mutated corner of the Marvel Universe in recent years, but the X-Men were such a major part of instilling the love of the medium into me that I will never ignore the opportunity to reconnect with them. This pricey relaunch includes an enormous cast of characters, a rather hackneyed plotline (a senator hawking a cure for the mutant gene) and plenty of action. I could sound jaded and say I’ve seen it all before (and in many respects, I have) but I think it’s more that I engaged more with the concept when there was a smaller number of characters, outcasts on the run, fighting against oppression. There’s some of that in play in this issue – it wouldn’t really be an X-Men book without it – but there’s an awful lot happening in these pages and, conversely, perhaps not enough. I’ve known many of these characters for years, but they feel like strangers here, the familiarity waning. It’s enjoyable as a superhero comic but I feel further away than ever from where the X-Men currently are. I’d like to believe that one day I’ll be back in sync with them again, but appears today’s not that day and this isn’t the series to do it. 6/10

Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
DC $3.99

Jo S: When I was a little girl, fairy tales were a part of my life, as for so many others. The hero or heroine of the story would begin at a lowly start, suffer challenges and tribulations, there's a big denouement/battle/wedding and… that's that. Happily ever after. So what was a girl to expect from the final issue of Mister Miracle, when the boss fight went down in issue #11? Of course, our hero Tom King has it all in hand. The champions of making the ordinary into the extraordinary, making gods into people like you and me and vice versa, making the weirdest and out-there-est freaks feel as familiar as your aunt or your brother-in-law, King and Gerads bring this story home in the most perfect way possible - like the end of a pantomime, everyone gets their bow, and everyone has a final gift to offer. This series has been a triumph, escaping the bounds of expectation and giving us magic, wonder and such beauty in mundanity that it feels as if it's about US, and isn't that exactly what we need from a story? 10/10

Matt C: The most beguiling series of the year reaches to conclusion, the theme of escape more prominent than ever. The notion here is that escaping is often just a method of running away from things, not facing them - a refusal to accept the reality of a situation rather than embracing it, good or bad. And that’s life; things happen between birth and death – such as becoming a parent – that can dramatically alter one’s perspective on things, and the fear of change can become overpowering. There are ways of escaping – dodging reality through fantasy, for example – but the smartest move is to accept changes, face them head on, and avoid deluding yourself that there’s an easier, safer way out. All this is beautifully conveyed through the prism of a superhero story, albeit a very unconventional superhero tale, one that uses words and pictures to capture relatable truths about the human condition. Profound and moving – decades into the genre's history, that creative types can still find new ways of weaving tales within its familiar conventions is, well, miraculous. 9/10

Writer: Joëlle Jones
Art: Joëlle Jones & Laura Allred
DC $3.99

Kenny J: This fifth issue of Catwoman brings us a treat with twenty pages of Joëlle Jones art. A complete issue that straddles every genre. Action to horror. Thriller to one page of beautiful heartbreaking romance. There is a lot of going on in these here but Jones does an expert job of mirroring Selina's predicament opposite Creel's machinations and she doesn't miss a beat, especially in the first half of this book. The latter part takes a slower pace but still shows the malevolence of Catwoman's newest villain, just in a less visceral way. I have to admit, the first few issues of this latest Catwoman series didn't grab me initially but without the slow introduction of certain elements this part of the story wouldn't have worked so well. The only other credit on this book is for Laura Allred's colours. She makes Jones’ already amazing inks even better and is definitely part of the reason the tempo of this book works. Allowing for easy differentiation between location and time. The reasons for Creel's targeting of Kyle are still yet to be revealed but with this storytelling and art I'm sticking around for Jones’ tenure and hopefully beyond. 9/10

Writer: Tom King
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino & Dave Stewart
Image $3.99

James R: This book is just an absolute treat from first page to last. It's no secret I love Jeff Lemire's work, and when teamed with the incredible art of Andrea Sorrentino it adds up to a book that's constantly inventive, entertaining and enthralling in equal measure. This month, the question is 'Who is Norton Sinclair?', the name of the troubled character now trapped in an asylum by sinister forces also turns up as a murder suspect in Gideon Falls in the past - but how can this be? Are there two Nortons? Can the Black Barn move through time? It's all one delicious mystery on top of the other, but these two storytellers keep the narrative streamlined and accessible. Brilliant stuff in all departments, and certainly one of the must-read books of the year. 9/10

Writer: Ryan Cady
Art: Andrea Mutti, K. Michael Russell
Image/Top Cow $3.99

Jo S: Infinite Dark made an intriguing start last month, introducing what felt like a classic murder mystery in a sci-fi setting, and writer Ryan Cady is not sitting back and taking it easy in this second issue, with the complexity of the investigation only deepening, as security officer Karrell battles with what appears to be encroaching instability in her own mind as well as confusion external to her. The introduction of Kirin Tal-Shi, one of the technolinguists who ‘communicate’ with the systems of the gigantic and mostly empty space ark Orpheus, sets up a further level of unease. Cady's invention of a sim-system, which manifests the mental state of the crew member undergoing therapy is a useful visual device, allowing Mutti to envelope us in the terrifying images Karrell is seeing - but are they actually in her mind only? I'm glad I stuck with this after issue #1; it feels like a story with a whole lot further to give us - or possibly one to drag us down screaming into the dark. 8/10

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